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Washing Raw Wool 



You Will Need:

  • Rubber or plastic gloves
  • Large tub strong enough to hold hot water (for every 1 pound of wool you are washing, you'll need a container that can hold ~28 liters of water)
  • Wisk liquid soap (or unscented liquid dish soap)
  • Plunger or potato masher


  1. Start by pulling the fleece apart in chunks, removing the larger chunks of dirt. Shake the wool as you go, removing the thicker guard hairs. This process is called "skirting" the wool.
    • If your wool is particularly dirty, after skirting you can soak it in cold water overnight to loosen the dirt before washing.
  2. Fill up a tub of soft (yes, soft) water, as hot as you are able. If you can manage 60-71°C (140-160°F), do so (the hottest water you'll probably get from a household hot water tank is ~150°F when turned all the way up). The finer the wool, the hotter the water you should use.
  3. Add Wisk liquid soap (as per UBC study) or an unscented liquid dish soap to the water. Use 1/2 cup for each pound of wool. Stir gently, but avoid making suds!
  4. Submerse the wool in the hot water. If you have a mesh laundry bag or onion sack, you can place the wool in it before submerging. Make sure the wool is very loosely packed, the the water penetrates all the way through.
  5. To wash, use a plunger to gently (and repeatedly) dunk the wool for about 15 minutes.
    • Do not rub or wring the wool together, as it will felt!
    • Avoid making suds.
    • Stop before the water temperature drops below 120°F, or the lanolin will redeposit.
  6. Depending on how dirty the wool is, it may need to be washed two or three times. Throw the water on your garden plants (roses love the lanolin), and do not drain the water down the sink as the fibres and lanolin will eventually clog your drains!
  7. Wool must by rinsed in clear, soft (yes, soft) water with the plunger two or three times.
    • Use hot tap water for your first rinse, and cold water for your second rinse.
    • Always add the wool to the water, never the other way around!
  8. Air dry.
    • This is best done in the Summer and dried on the clothes line or thrown on the grass.
    • If you are drying indoors, air flow is key: blow air on the wool from a fan (room temperature, hot air may make the wool brittle) and turn frequently.


  • A glass of something cold always helps the process along. :)
  • Do not use washers or dryers, as this will matt and ruin the wool.


Happy washing!